A Section Devoted to Old-Car Matters
V.S.C.C. Hendon Driving Tests (Dec. 13th)
First-Class Awards: A. D. Jones (1928 Austin), H. J. De Salis (1925 Austin), P. R. Parks (1926 Austin).
Second-Class Awards: J. K. Milner (1926 A.C.), P. J. Milton (1926 A.C.), J. Borthwick (1927 Lancia).
Third-Class Awards: B. Gray (1927 Austin), A. M. Westmacott (1929 Riley), A. F. Blower (1929 Alvis).
An Interesting Book
It is remarkable, and pleasing, the sort of things readers send the Editor. For example, the other day he received a new diary—it turned out to be an unused motorist’s diary for the year 1904, with spaces for entering the cost of keeping an autocar on the road!
Another interesting book I was able to read through the thoughtfulness of a reader was “Through East Anglia in a Motor Car” by J. E. Vincent. Although not as adventurous as travel books dealing with the early conquest of continents, this book about covering a county, published by Methuen in 1907, has a fascination because it deals with country which we can see today from the aspect of half a century ago.
Although the title suggests that only one car was used, in fact the author traversed East Anglia in several delectable vehicles.
His opening chapters concern journeys in a short-wheelbase 15 h.p. Panhard, made late in 1905, accompanied by his daughter, who wore a thick tweed dress, a short fur coat, a mackintosh with gathered-in sleeves, a red Connemara cloak, a motor-cap and veil, fur-lined gloves and a muff as insulation from the elements. The author contented himself with vest, flannel shirt, lined corduroy waistcoat, ordinary tweed trousers, a rowing sweater, thick Norfolk jacket, thick Ulster coat and loose woollen gloves—and was “never too warm, often too cold!”
This run was made after a General Election, caused by Mr. Balfour’s resignation, in which motor cars played a prominent part. The Panhard had done its share of the electioneering and was now loaded with 60 stone 7 lb. of humanity for the initial run out of Cambridge, including a mechanic, the owner and two keen undergraduates who were to pilot it out of Oxford on the Ipswich road and trudge five or six miles back.
Space precludes reference to the generous reporting and sage remarks made by Mr. Vincent in this 406-page volume covering 15 trips in Edwardian East Anglia. But this is a truly intriguing work and although here I can only touch briefly on the cars the author travelled in, I would dearly like to cover some of his itineraries today in a car of the correct period with his comprehensive guide-book on my knees.
The Panhard served for the ran to Ipswich, on to Norwich and down to London, and there is a fine account of driving at night from Stowmarket to Ipswich, ” . . . we tried to proceed on oil-lamps only; then we were driven to acetylene; but, with air none too clear at any time and wreaths of denser mist now and again, even the acetylene rays did not penetrate very far . . . the best thing I remember that night, out of doors, was the sight of the lights of Ipswich and of the tall tramcars, which told us that we were there at last.”
The “Heart of East Anglia” was then visited in a six-cylinder 30 h.p. Rolls-Royce tourer driven by Claude Johnson, again with mechanic and the author’s two daughters—”a six-cylinder is a very little, but still distinctly, more luxurious than the best four-cylinder car.” At the “Maid’s Head” in Norwich even a Rolls-Royce was felt to be out of place and, in deference to a notice requesting cars to set down their passengers with as little noise as possible and move on, it was quickly driven away to the garage.
Norfolk was described as a motorist’s paradise and along the road from Scoulton Mere to Walton the Rolls-Royce’s speed indicator showed 50 m.p.h. The next journey was London to Felixstowe in an 18 h.p. White steam car, with Fred and Mrs. Coleman, their child, the author and his wife and a mechanic aboard. Now comes reference to travelling Eastwards from Colchester in a Lanchester driven, on a military exercise in 1903/4, by an Army Service Corps driver. A later chapter deals with another expedition with Claude Johnson, this time in the Rolls-Royce “Grey Ghost,” a 20 h.p. four-cylinder tourer, one of the first Rolls-Royce cars built, a run beset with a good deal of tyre trouble, necessitating hiring a motorcycle messenger for 12 miles to locate suitable spares, and trouble due to dirt in the petrol.
A truly interesting book! Incidentally, Methuen intended this to be the first of a series and I am anxious to know whether any more of these fat, honest volumes with their colour plates were published?
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We hear of a 1927 Austin 16 and a Sunbeam Dawn in daily use which apparently can be acquired cheaply, and also of an Ansaldo tourer, a circa 1922 Humber tourer with charred body, and the remains of an early Belsize van in a breaker’s yard, while in Scotland a number of model-T Ford spares, a 1922 Buick power unit and two l.t. magnetos from a 1900 Arrol-Johnston are available. Then, in the South there are more model-T Ford parts and the remains of a very early Benz engine, and of a “Bullnose” Morris. Finally, a reader knows of an Austin Heavy Twelve in Kent which is in danger of being broken up.
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It is with regret that we learn that a 1912 B-type 30-h.p. Vauxhall six-cylinder landaulette formerly in the Birmingham Museum of Science and Industry has gone to America, its owner having sold it to someone in Colorado.